Nobert Vettel has been a common face at the paddock ever-since the Formula 1 debut of Sebastian Vettel in 2007. But he’s never been one to take credit for his son’s career or grab the spotlight. Behind the scenes, he developed strong bonds with the engineers, mechanics and crew of Red Bull, Ferrari, Toro Rosso and Aston Martin and others over the years. Most importantly, Nobert Vettel was an avid motor racing fan and an even prouder father.
Early Beginnings for Sebastian Vettel
In an interview with F1’s Lawrence Barretto, Nobert provided an insight into how the passion of motor sport was inculcated into his son.
It was in fact an electric truck gifted by his parents on Christmas morning that sparked Sebastian’s interest in racing. He was fascinated by everything about the truck – speed, mechanics and so on. This interests only became more concrete for Sebastian while he watched his father compete in hill-climb events. Soon-enough, Nobert found himself driving 300km to find a second-hand kart to let Sebastian take his rightful place – behind a steering wheel.
A Nervous Yet Proud Father Looks On
Nobert recalls how watching Sebastian get into his race overalls was a nervous moment for him as a father. In fact, each race since then, he’s been nervous. If he’s not there physically at the paddock, he’s following every session, watching on the television, listening to the radio or following live timings of Sebastian’s lap times. Nobert exclaimed, “I’m always nervous for him.” But now that his son has retired from Formula 1, Nobert joked that next year, he won’t be nervous as Sebastian finally bid adieu to Formula 1 after 300 race starts.
Then Sebastian Vettel struck gold in 2010. Where the Red Bull driver fended off Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso and clinched the World Championship in the last race. Nobert states, “This was a nice time – I was just so proud of him.” “Every father, every mother, you do everything for the children. So, to watch him go from karting to world champion was incredible.”
The Journey To The First Win
Sebastian Vettel would become the youngest Grand Prix winner when he battled it out on wet conditions and won at Monza for Toro Rosso. Nobert wouldn’t have been too surprised as he states, “Seb was every time good in the rain. He had such a good feel for the car, for the tyres in those conditions.”
When Sebastian had just gotten into karting, Nobert would stand at the side of the track, before the hairpin to mark where Sebastian needed to break. He loved to drive in the wet and showed exemplary control as a child in these conditions. He would be persistent to stay out on the track. To the extent that Sebastian wouldn’t come in for lunch and let his sister drive the kart meanwhile. “He just wanted to keep trying, keep learning. He was fascinated,” Nobert added. If any teenager was to win on a wet Monza track, it had to be Sebastian Vettel.
A Goodbye To Formula 1
Before Sebastian’s final Formula 1 race, Nobert gifted Sebastian his first race suit and helmet from his karting days. A homage to how it all began all those decades back on a small race track in Germany.
Nobert Vettel feels that his son will miss Formula 1, his home. But that’s his feeling. “Seb’s feeling, I do not know. When you’ve been in this hamster wheel for so many years, racing since he was eight, it’s hard to know how he will feel now he is off the wheel,” Nobert states. It’ll be a big change in the lives of the father-son duo. But he does have one final message for Sebastian Vettel – “I say to Seb: thank you for all this nice time. Have a good time.”
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